HRM in Brazil: an institutional approach
Keywords:Human resource management, Brazil, Labor Market, Labor relations
Purpose – The purpose of this work is to comparatively study human resources management (HRM) areas in
Brazil, at the national level, analyzing how companies considered labor market and labor relations aspects
when building their strategies and when configuring people management models in place in the country (2014–
2019), based on local conditions.
Design/methodology/approach – The subject was approached through qualitative analysis, encompassing
document survey, systematic literature review, specialists’ panel discussions, eight focus groups (43 human
resources [HR] managers), interviews (16 union members), applying institutional approach to people management.
Findings – In regards to labor market and unions, HR areas faced different conditions across Brazilian regions.
They have dealt with those influences on their strategic and quotidian decisions in an unstructured fashion. HR
areas remain constructed as traditional, adjuvant and far from strategic level. In the institutionalization process –
normative isomorphism– a professional HR jargon use was identified. HR areas usually act in collective bargaining,
resorting to specialized professionals or consulting companies. During the economic crisis, HR professionals’
attitude had a reactive nature, responding to organizations leadership, with little dedication to the emerging context.
Practical implications – This work enables important players like HR managers, union members and
specialists in public policies to interpret the institutionalization phenomena of practices related to management,
labor market and labor relations in the country.
Social implications – Understanding the effects of the relations among state, companies and unions allows
the different power vectors, acting upon the institutionalization process of people management areas in the
Brazilian case, to be outlined.
Originality/value – This study applies the institutional approach to understand the economic and social
heterogeneity affecting organizations in Brazil. It enhances the knowledge on HRM areas scope and their
articulation toward labor market and relations.